cover image Dagger Hill

Dagger Hill

Devon Taylor. Swoon Reads, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-2507-6334-1

In the summer of 1989, Police Chief Albright is intent on having his son, Gabe, shadowing him at work, but Gabe would rather spend time with his friends, the Almost Nobodies, as they approach their senior year of high school. When the largely white group (one friend is cued as Latinx) picnics at Windale, Pa.’s forbidden Dagger Hill, a “hot spot for mystery and murder,” their lives are changed forever: a plane nosedives into the hill, leaving three of the four friends injured and one—Kimberly—missing. Wary of a classified military investigation and interference by nearby laboratory TerraCorp, the Almost Nobodies lean on each other to find Kimberly and stop a series of increasingly ghastly murders. Taylor (the Soul Keepers series) layers horror styles—found footage, monster, paranormal, and psychological—while switching perspectives among the Almost Nobodies and townspeople. While the multiple moving parts and shifting formats (narrative, newspaper excerpts, interviews) can be difficult to follow, visceral descriptions (“bullets shredded into meat”) and the introduction of a shape-shifting figure lead to a jolting read in the style of Stephen King—one with plenty of 1980s nostalgia and a tender LGBTQ romance. Ages 13–up. [em](Aug.) [/em]